‘Wonderful boy’: Family and friends remember Mill Bay teen killed in crash

(Submitted)
Kieran Harper is pictured.

A growing memorial was set up along Highway 1 in Mill Bay on Friday after a teenager died in a crash on Thursday.

Seventeen-year-old Kieran Harper died in a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of Butterfield Road and Highway 1 on Thursday morning.

His mother, Carrie-Ann Harper, says her son was a happy boy who had a large network of friends.

“My boy was a happy, wonderful boy, had lots of friends,” she said at the memorial Friday.

She said that this summer, she and Kieran had plans to build a structure in their backyard to accommodate all the friends he would have over “because our house was so small.”

Nicknamed ‘Sunny Sunshine,’ his mom says he loved music and basketball and was recently accepted to the University of Toronto’s music program.

His mother says the news of his death has devastated the community “from here to Duncan.”

“Kieran, I love you, all your friends love you,” she said at the memorial Friday.

Dozens of classmates hovered over Kieran’s memorial set up on the intersection of Butterfield Road and Highway 1. Many left flowers around the ‘N’ sticker from his car.

“Please be safe, your life is ahead of you. My son’s is gone and I want you all to learn to be safe,” pleaded the mother.

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The memorial is pictured on March 1, 2024.

‘Still reeling’

Kieran was a Grade 12 student at Frances Kelsey Secondary School in Mill Bay.

Mike Russell, director of communications for the Cowichan Valley School District, says the tight-knit community is still processing the news.

“It’s very fresh. This happened yesterday, so our staff and students are still reeling from it,” he told CHEK News Friday.

“Our thoughts, our feelings are definitely going out to the family that is impacted, our student’s family, to all his friends, his relatives and the community at large,” he said.

Kieran’s friend, Kaede Bilawchuk, was at the memorial Friday and said many students at the school stayed home for the day as they navigate the loss.

“It was tough. Yesterday, the entire senior class, essentially, we grieved in the library and all that,” he said.

Kaede says Kieran was outgoing and funny, and describes him as an “all around great guy.”

“Life of the party, essentially. A beacon, I’d almost say. He did not deserve to go out like that, and too young,” said Kaede.

Russell says the school has extra supports in place, such as counselling, for both students and teachers.

An online fundraiser was also set up for the Harper family.

Two-vehicle crash

RCMP says the crash occurred around 9:15 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Highway 1 and Butterfield Road.

Mounties say that based on initial evidence gathered at the scene, Kieren was turning left from Butterfield Road onto Highway 1 when his vehicle was struck by a black truck heading south on the highway.

The teen died at the scene, while the driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.

Police say drugs and alcohol are not believed to be factors in the crash.

The collision is still under investigation and officers are still speaking with witnesses.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact the Shawnigan Lake RCMP at 250-743-1549.

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